Judith Woodsworth named President 

By Barbara Black

Judith Woodsworth was introduced to faculty, staff and students at an open meeting of the Board of Governors and Senate. Magnifying glass

Judith Woodsworth was introduced to faculty, staff and students at an open meeting of the Board of Governors and Senate.

Judith Woodsworth eagerly anticipates returning to Montreal. She is winding up her affairs at Laurentian University and expects to start her appointment as President on Aug. 1.

Her appearance before the Concordia community on Feb. 25 as the search committee’s preferred candidate was described by some as “a love-in.” There was a palpable sense of relief in the D.B. Clarke Theatre as she engaged her audience in a warm and natural way, emphasizing her determination to seek consensus and conduct a transparent administration.

Speaking by phone from Sudbury after her appointment was announced on Feb. 29, she said she welcomes the jointly announced appointment of Dean David Graham as Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs. As scholars of the French language, they are already acquainted with one another.

“I think he’s a great choice,” she said.

While Woodsworth knows she faces challenges, notably the reappearance of a deficit and ongoing labour negotiations, she has faced challenges before, and has overcome them.

“I have a little déjà vu,” she said. “When I was appointed president here, the Sudbury Star published something called ‘Lament for Laurentian.’”

There was a $2-million deficit at the bilingual university in Northern Ontario when she took over as president in 2002, but she turned it into a surplus. When a questioner at her Concordia presentation wanted to know where the surplus went, she answered crisply that she was spending it — on new doctoral programs, buildings, library facilities and computers.

Asked what we can expect by way of presidential style, Woodsworth said she enjoys entertaining, and has been known to auction off dinner parties at her home, cooked by her own hand, for university causes.

“Mind you, I’m spoiled here at Laurentian, living in a big university house with grand rooms to entertain in.” She and her husband, former Gazette editor and Concordia journalism teacher Lindsay Crysler, will be looking for new digs convenient to the downtown campus.

Returning to Concordia after an absence of 10 years was a shock, Woodsworth said. Not only was she dazzled by the new buildings and the booming enrolment, she recognized few of her former colleagues among the faculty, which has been substantially renewed over the decade.

“But that’s a good thing,” she exclaimed. “This is an exciting time.”

For his part, Dean Graham sent an email of thanks to his colleagues in Arts and Science as he took up his appointment as Provost on March 1.

“I am all too conscious of the many initiatives that are only partially completed,” he said. “At the same time, I know that our Faculty is strong and resilient, and that our national profile is such that we will surely attract wonderful candidates, whether internal or external, for the position of Dean of Arts and Science.”

Graham also expressed satisfaction with the appointment of Associate Dean Joanne Locke as Interim Dean of Arts and Science, pending the appointment of a new dean.

“Almost everyone in our Faculty knows Joanne, who brings a wealth of experience to the position of Interim Dean. She will guide [us] very capably through the period of transition.”


Concordia University